WASHINGTON (CNN) – In effort to show fellow Democrats he hears their deep concerns about his health care plan, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus plans to make changes to his own proposal even before the committee starts voting Tuesday on hundreds of proposed amendments to the $774 billion dollar plan.
The biggest concern he will begin to address: affordability.
Two Democratic sources close to Baucus tell CNN he plans to use the $28 billion surplus in the plan cited by the Congressional Budget Office to help Americans pay for health insurance that would be mandatory under his proposal.
The Baucus sources say he will discuss this in a Monday evening meeting with committee Democrats.
Late last Friday, 564 amendments were filed to make changes to Baucus' proposal, including a significant number from Democrats looking for ways to make health coverage more affordable.
Several Democratic measures call for expanding tax credits to help pay for health coverage.
Other Democratic amendments would lower the penalty on middle class individuals and families for not complying with a new mandate for health coverage.
Republicans are targeting that penalty - noting that the Baucus plan clearly defines it as an "excise tax."
In fact, it's clear from amendments Republicans have offered that the thrust of their strategy revolves around that one controversial word: taxes.
They plan to make this proposal very difficult for moderate and conservative Democrats on the committee to support by highlighting the number of taxes that Baucus' proposal would require Americans and businesses to pay.
For example, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has proposed an amendment that explicitly exempts families making less than $250,000 per year from tax increases. Hatch says his rationale is that "President Obama has pledged not to raise taxes on middle-income families."
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, offered several amendments to the Baucus proposal to kill nearly $10 billion in excise taxes on the insurance industry, medical device manufacturers, clinical laboratories and manufacturers of imported brand drugs.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, has an amendment to change the word "fee" used throughout the Baucus proposal, to "tax."
Democrats have offered other measures that highlight the controversies and differences in their own party.
Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, and Charles Schumer, D-New York, have each introduced amendments to include a government-run insurance option, which is currently not in Baucus' proposal.
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, the only Republican Democrats still believe could support their health care plan, has also offered several amendments, including ways to make insurance more affordable, and the idea of a so-called "trigger" option, which would implement a new public option only if insurance market reforms do not result in greater competition and lower costs for consumers.
Isn't auto insurance mandatory? Gimme a break! Republicans are obstructionists!
You want a public option?
You don't want an option at all.
You want me to pay for your health-care insurance.
It looks like everybody is complaining more about how this healthcare would be paid. Can anyone tell me how much the current system is costing the taxpayers? It seems it's around 2.5 trillion dollars. If the reform will cost around 1 trillion over 10 years (around 100 billion a year) , don't you think this is money saving? It's time for the media and the republican party to tell the truth to the american people, because the way the media and the republican party are portraying this is just misleading the people which I can characterize as unpatriotic. As a reminder that's the same way the war in Irak was sold to the american people. so wake up america, because people are not dumb. Do your math!!